When you first start PRI, it can be quite difficult to conceptualize the whole thing. If you are a trainer, your general mindset tends to be one of strength and conditioning, so that you are thinking in terms of strength.
Clearly, strength is important. But I have seen really strong guys reduced to a whimpering children when attempting to do a Hruska Abduction Lift Test. The difficulty wasn’t because they were weak. The difficulty was that they didn’t have proper position. The only way they could do the test was with compensation. When the compensation was eliminated, they simply couldn’t do it.
1. Position comes first. PRI is about position. It’s about displaying proper muscle strength in the proper pelvic and ribcage position. Displays of strength without proper position indicates strong compensation patterns. PRI exercises are incredibly difficult neurologically. Can you stand on a left leg, with the knee slightly bent, your left pelvis is L AF/IR, feel your left hamstring, adductor, and glute medius, rotate your torso to the right, and breathe, without compensation? If you can, then you are building strength. If you can’t, you aren’t strong in left stance.
2. PRI is walking and breathing. What you don’t see at first is that all PRI tests are testing some aspect of the gait cycle and breathing, while all PRI exercises are targeting particular muscles involved in the gait cycle, and breathing, without compensation.
3. PRI is autonomics. PRI is a tool to influence the autonomic nervous system. Extension patterns, which PRI identifies as being the root of much musculo-skeletal pain, is reflective of a body that is living in a state of fight or flight.
In the typical Left AIC/Right BC indvidual, the person is living in “fight or flight” on the left side of the body. They have an over-extended lower back on the left produced by an anteriorly rotated left pelvis and elevated ribs.
A PEC person, who underneath is still a Left AIC, is in fight or flight on both sides of the body. Both sides of the pelvis are rotated forward, and both sides of the ribs are elevated. This PEC pattern can extend up into the neck.
In this sense, PRI can be thought of as a way to reduce sympathetic nervous system tone and increase parasympathetic activity, which will enable the entire system to relax.
4. PRI is about inhibition. While we do facilitate muscle activity, the inhibition aspect of over-active chains of muscle is more important. We can activate a left hamstring all day long, we do it in training all the time, but if you can’t turn off the hip flexors at the same time, the left pelvis will not reposition. So when repositioning isn’t occurring as expected, you should think “what isn’t turning off” rather than “what isn’t turning on.”
5. PRI has philosophical parallels.
For the more spiritually minded, PRI is like Buddhism in the sense that both identify a pattern that needs to be “let go” of.
PRI identifies the Left AIC/Right BC pattern as the neuromuscular pattern that we need to let go of. We need to let go of it so that we can shift into the Right AIC/Left BC pattern, otherwise known as “left stance”.
The Left AIC/Right BC pattern is the body’s habitual response to uncertainty. It is a protective extension pattern that is used to guard against an unfamiliar environment, when our brain can’t quite figure out what is going on, or in times of stress.
Buddhism identifies negative thought and behavioral patterns that need to be let go of.
One of these patterns is called Samsara. It is our unconscious and habitual reactions that we use to protect ourselves from uncertainty or when painful or hurtful experiences arise.
Our habitual reaction is to avoid pain. So we try to fend off these uncomfortable experiences and feelings by short-term pleasure seeking or by trying to make ourselves feel important or powerful.
PRI isn’t only found in the gym, or in the physical therapist’s office. It’s found everywhere. Once you truly understand it, you’ll find that it is inseparable from life itself.
Asymmetry and uncertainty are the natural law of the entire universe!
And we must adapt properly. We must have a full range of options available to us.
Otherwise we get stuck.
We have habitual movement and breathing patterns called the Left AIC/Right BC pattern that, although normal and half the gait cycle, becomes dysfunctional over time when we can’t let it go and shift over to left stance. When this occurs we are unable to adapt to the physical demands of our environment. We stay one-sided, to the right, and lose the ability to integrate the left side of our body into our lives.
We have habitual thought and behavioral patterns that become dysfunctional when they are over-utilized as defense mechanisms. We become overly focused on ourselves. We don’t accept change very well. We resist the natural flow, the ups and downs, of life. We can’t let go of past hurts, we can’t let go of fear of a changing future.
Our minds and bodies become rigid, tense, patterned, and habitual.
This is never a good situation to be in.
Breaking the patterns become the key to a happier and pain-free life!